Southampton host the top-of-the-table Everton on Sunday in search of their sixth home Premier League win in eight against them. Steve Rawlings previews the game...
"Southampton at around 2.89/5 looks a decent price but given the last seven encounters between these two have seen both teams score, the 4/1 available on the Sportsbook for Southampton to win and Both Teams to Score is where the value lies."
Southampton v Everton
Sunday October 25, 14:00
Live on Sky Sports
Solid Saints on a strong run of form
After finishing last season really well, losing just one of their nine Premier League games after the restart and going unbeaten in their last seven (W4D3), Southampton suffered a bit of a stuttering start to the current campaign.
A 1-0 defeat away at Crystal Palace was followed by a 5-2 drubbing at home to Spurs but Son Hueng-min and Harry Kane were devasting that day and Spurs only actually had six shots in total! In fact, Southampton have had more shots than their opponents in every game they've played this season so far and their heavy defeat to Tottenham was their last loss.
Victories at Burnley (1-0) and at home to West Brom (2-0) put Ralph Hasenhuttl's charges back on track and a last-gasp equaliser against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last weekend has kept the momentum going. The Saints came from 2-0 down to draw level before Kai Havertz made it 3-2 but Jannik Vestergaard salvaged a point in the 92nd minute.
Southampton have now lost just two of their last 12 in the Premier League and their general level of play perhaps deserves better than their current position of 12th.
Toffees on top against the odds
In contrast to Sunday's opponents, Everton finished last season very poorly, winning just one of their last six Premier League matches. They signed off with a 3-1 home defeat to Bournemouth and as a result of their apathetic finale, the Toffees were matched at 1000.0 to win the 2020/21 Premier League but Carlo Ancelotti has worked the oracle during the short off-season.
Everton have hit the ground running, winning four in-a-row before drawing 2-2 with the holders, Liverpool, last Saturday and those that layed the 1000.0 have a sweat on. The Toffees sit on top off the table and they've already been matched at as low as 17.016/1 for the title.
They rode their luck against their bitter rivals and Jordan Henderson was very unlucky to see his injury-time strike chalked off for an offside decision that looked too tight to call. Liverpool will feel aggrieved about the result, as well as the injury to Virgil Van Dyk, given the xG figures suggested they should have won the game.
The Reds' xG was 2.85 to Everton's 1.35 and that was the third time this season that Everton have outscored their xG. In fact, finding the back of the net, or should that be, Dominic Calvert-Lewin finding the net, has been the big difference this term. So far this season, the Toffees have scored 14 goals when their xG has been only 10.8. Contrast that with last season when they bagged only 44 when their season-long xG was 58.8!
Calvert-Lewin will be in search of his eighth goal of the season on Sunday and he's looking to be only the second player in Premier League history to score in each of his side's first six games. Sergio Aguero achieved the feat for Manchester City last season.
Calvert-Lewin has been the big difference this season but how will he fare without his suspended strike-partner, Richarlison? The Brazilian will be a big miss but there appears to be better news surrounding James Rodriguez, who's already had a hand in six goals this season (three goals and three assists).
The influential Colombian's been an injury doubt all week long but there was encouraging news on Friday when Ancelotti had this to say in his press conference.
"He is not definitely out, fortunately, his recovery was really good and he trained today, it was just a partial training session and I hope he trains tomorrow and is in condition to play in Sunday. We are really confident he can maybe play."
Tight affairs have been the norm
These two finished 11th and 12th last season, with the Saints just three points ahead of the Toffees and the two have had some close encounters of late.
Southampton have a very solid record at home, having won five of their last seven against Everton in the Premier League but they were beaten 2-1 by the Toffees at St. Mary's last term and that's been a popular score with three of the last five Premier League encounters ending that way.
Everton won two of the three 2-1 games and two of the last five Premier League games between the two have finished 1-1 - as did the League Cup encounter two years ago. They're hard to separate but Yes in the Both Teams to Score market certainly looks the play given they've both bagged in each of their last seven meetings. Odds of around 1.75/7 may look short but they're not wrong based on that evidence and the shade of odds-on about Over in the Over/Under 2.5 Goals market looks fair too.
So far this season, 62% of Premier League games have produced at least three goals and if we look at these two clubs in isolation last season, 54% of Southampton home games and 58% of Everton away matches, produced three or more goals.
Saints can edge it with both teams scoring
Everton are looking to win their fourth Premier League away game in-a-row for the first time since 1985. They're also looking to win consecutive top-flight away games at Southampton for the first time since 1992 and to remain unbeaten in their first six Premier League games for only the third time.
Given those stats, and the fact that the Toffees have had to deal with a particularly tricky derby aftermath, and that they're missing Richarlison (and potentially Rodriguez), I'm happy to take them on. Southampton at around 2.89/5 looks a decent price but given the last seven encounters between these two have seen both teams score, the 4/1 available on the Sportsbook for Southampton to win and Both Teams to Score is where the value lies.
Similarly, Over 2.5 Goals looks the way to go in the Over/Under 2.5 Goals market but doubling that up with Danny Ings to Score with a Same Goal Multi makes sense. The double comes to 2.79, with the added bonus that it comes with a special offer of a free bet (details below).
Only Jamie Vardy has scored more goals than Ings since the start of last season and he has a great record against Everton. Ings has scored in four of his five appearances in all competitions against the Toffees for the Saints and overall, he's bagged six in nine against them. The Saints striker, who's also just scored his first goal for England, is in search of his fifth Premier League goal of the season and it would be no surprise to see him bag at least one against the Toffees.
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